Much as I miss my loved ones, it’s nice spending Christmas with someone else’s family and experiencing all of their traditions. Jordy’s family puts on a European seafood feast every year on Christmas eve. Aside from the spectacular food, I love that the three days prior are spent mostly in the kitchen, shelling prawns, cleaning squid, preparing octopus and shucking oysters – for me joy really is in the making. I spent two hours at the sink on the 23rd, shelling prawns, smiling at the snow in the fields beyond and listening to Christmas carols with Jordy’s mother. It was a pretty lovely way to spend an afternoon. And since I love to bake, I put together a favourite strawberry cake the morning of Christmas eve, with a little help from Jordy and Bing Crosby. By the afternoon, once the cake was baked and the dishes done, Jordy insisted we get outside in the cold and have a little fun. And my goodness, we really did.
Jordy’s family have an enormous property outside of town where you can see for miles. Last summer his brother Jesse planted apple, pear, cherry and peach trees which thankfully look good, their second winter in. There is new ground set aside for a greenhouse and tractor shed, an icy creek and some very frosty dams at one end, and then nothing but fields of prairie grass and thick snow. It’s actually one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
And one of the best ways to see it, I have to say, is screaming around on the back of a four wheeler at 40 miles an hour. I squealed and laughed and clung on to Jordy’s back as my hands slowly froze up and my thighs raged against the cold wind rushing towards us. It was exhilarating and amazing and probably my new favourite pastime. They also have a thing called a ‘mule’, which is kind of like an off-road golf cart that seats up to five and can go on all terrains. Jesse raced it up hills and along the bank of the river, across patchy fields and through banks of trees, branches hitting the sides and snapping beneath the tough wheels. I was terrified and cold and couldn’t stop smiling.